Flicker of hope for my beloved king­dom . . .

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

An in­ter­est­ing story has been do­ing the rounds around Maseru. It goes like this. Dur­ing one of his moody days, Tlali Kennedy Kamoli pitched up at a cab­i­net meet­ing an­nounced. He then forced the chair­man, ntate Mo­sisili, to halt pro­ceed­ings half­way through. The Premier du­ti­fully com­plied.

The rea­son for ntate Kamoli do­ing all this, the story goes, was be­cause he wanted to show who is in­deed the mighty King of this coun­try. He wanted to prove where real power re­sides. King Kamoli then or­dered all male min­is­ters to remove their vests and shirts and move into the grounds of State House to each per­form a 100 press ups.

Younger cab­i­net mem­bers like the ever in­de­fati­ga­ble Se­libe Mo­choboroane and Josh Setipa quickly stripped off their vests, ex­pos­ing their well aligned six packs. They all rushed into the grounds of State House as or­dered. In less than a minute Mo­choboroane and Setipa had each com­pleted their 100 press (push) ups? The older mem­bers of the cab­i­net strug­gled. Ntate Mo­sisili could not com­plete in the first minute but fin­ished in the third minute. Am­ple proof that he is still a spring chicken and fit to be Prime Min­is­ter. Ntate Moleleki, still re­cov­er­ing from a near ter­mi­nal ill­ness, strug­gled but com­pleted the task in the ninth minute. So was Ntate Mets­ing, who nev­er­the­less showed a bit of a bulging pot belly af­ter re­mov­ing his shirt off. Other mem­bers of the cab­i­net fol­lowed suit and com­pleted the pushups ex­cept Ntate Moeketse Malebo of Mare­mat­lou Free­dom Party in­famy. Ntate Malebo, could only man­age 24 press ups be­fore col­laps­ing flat on his nose and tummy be­fore faint­ing.

Af­ter the press ups, King Kamoli then or­dered the male cab­i­net mem­bers to do 40 squats each. They did as or­dered and com­pleted the ex­er­cise at vary­ing times with the younger Mo­choboroanes and Seti­pas ex­celling again. Talk about the need for younger peo­ple to take charge.

King Kamoli then or­dered all fe­male mem­bers of the cab­i­net to line up in front of their male cab­i­net mem­bers. They all started sweat­ing heav­ily, not know­ing what to an­tic­i­pate. King Kamoli, the story con­tin­ues, or­dered them to lift their skirts to their waist­lines. They all knelt down­wards and be­fore do­ing as or­dered, King Kamoli laughed loudly and asked them to stop.

He then or­dered the male cab­i­net mem­bers to find a cart to hoist him around State House while he sat atop, ef­fec­tively copy­ing Uganda’s for­mer “leader” Idi Amin who hu­mil­i­ated Bri­tish busi­ness­men by or­der­ing them to carry him around the grounds of State House in Kam­pala in a makeshift throne.

By do­ing so Amin wanted to prove who in­deed was King of Uganda. Un­for­tu­nately for King Kamoli, no make shift throne or cart could im­me­di­ately be found around State House.

An­gry that he could not force the cab­i­net mem­bers to per­form the fi­nal act of sub­mis­sion, King Kamoli then jumped into his mo­tor­cade and left State House with sirens of his guard ve­hi­cles wail­ing nois­ily and his men­ac­ing body­guards wav­ing high cal­i­bre ri­fles in case of any sud­den threats.

Hav­ing been put in their mod­est place, the now heav­ily per­spir­ing cab­i­net mem­bers went back into the con­fer­ence to ad­journ their meet­ing, hav­ing been shown who is the real King of Le­sotho.

Iheard this story while down­ing my favourite brandy at Khali “Ho­tel”. I laughed my lungs off. It sounded like a sick lep­rechaun or fairy tale meant to be­smirch the “im­pec­ca­ble rep­u­ta­tion” of our “highly dis­ci­plined”, “dili­gent” and “overly qual­i­fied” com­man­der in chief of the LDF.

You may of course ask what lady Scru­ta­tor was do­ing at the wretched Khali “Ho­tel” in­stead of min­gling with mem­bers of my high class at Mpilo Bou­tique or Le­sotho Sun. The an­swer is sim­ple. I am a woman of the peo­ple. So at times, I have to mix with the very bot­tom rung of so­ci­ety to get a feel of what it is to be at the bot­tom end.

There is no bet­ter place to do that than at the once ven­er­a­ble Khali “ho­tel”. I have since heard the story of the cab­i­net press ups be­ing re­peated sev­eral times. Is it there­fore true or just a ram­pant joke.

The story re­minded me of an­other that Mme Li­a­biloe loves shar­ing with friends. Ntate Mot­soa­hae’s con­cu­bine has re­peat­edly re­counted an un­for­get­table in­ci­dent when King Kamoli met the ousted Premier at State House for rou­tine con­sul­ta­tions be­fore their re­la­tion­ship headed south.

It was only the two of them in the room. All seemed well un­til Cy­clone Tom said some­thing that an­noyed the King. King Kamoli then stood up, grabbed Ntate Mot­soa­hae by the neck, lifted him and pinned him against the wall. Slapped him be- fore drop­ping him on the car­pet and walk­ing away. When Mme Li­a­biloe en­tered the room, she re­counted how she saw her el­derly lover gasp­ing for breath. Lucky he sur­vived.

Whether or not these sto­ries about how King Kamoli ex­er­cises his un­fet­tered pow­ers are true or false is whole be­side the point. It is now con­ven­tional wis­dom that no one walks on the same grass walked by the mighty King him­self. For the pur­pose of my point, let’s con­sider all these sto­ries true.

For me, they con­firm the love-hate re­la­tion­ship be­tween Ntate Mo­sisili and the re­port of the SADC’S Phumaphi Com­mis­sion.

You will by now have ei­ther read in full Ntate Mo­sisili’s speech to Par­lia­ment this week about his coali­tion gov­ern­ment’s “progress” in im­ple­ment­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Phumaphi in­quiry or at least have heard about it. This in the wake of a SADC dead­line that

The point is that Ntate Mo­sisili’s is a master in sophistry. His de­liv­ery in Par­lia­ment was spec­tac­u­lar. He praised the Phumaphi re­port for all the good find­ings that suits him and his al­lies. To be fair on him, there was an im­por­tant find­ing made by Jus­tice Phumaphi that the me­dia ei­ther ig­nored or scant­ily re­ported on. This was the com­mis­sion’s state­ment that it found no ev­i­dence of po­lit­i­cal killings or kid­nap­pings of op­po­si­tion lead­ers.

“To us in gov­ern­ment, these are very im­por­tant find­ings,” said the Premier.

“It will be re­called that at the ma­te­rial time, ru­mour was rife that the Le­sotho gov­ern­ment was spon­sor­ing sys­tem­atic killings of mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion. It was very dif­fi­cult to dis­pel these ru­mours be­cause they were sup­ported not only by the op­po­si­tion but also by the me­dia and or civil so­ci­ety,” the Premier noted.

In­for­ma­tion that the gov­ern­ment was killing op­po­nents was not only mere ru­mour. It was pub­lished as fact. For ex­am­ple, the Sun­day Times, South Africa’s big­gest news­pa­per, which has a syn­di­ca­tion sys­tem with some of the world’s most es­tab­lished me­dia groups in the UK and Amer­ica, re­ported that the “Mo­sisili gov­ern­ment had em­barked on a sys­tem­atic cam­paign of nass killings and bru­tal tor­ture of op­po­nents ……….. etc”. This was clearly false re­port­ing and caused se­vere rep­u­ta­tional dam­age to the gov­ern­ment.

The Premier was thus right to high­light the com­mis­sion’s find­ing re­pu­di­at­ing this high

Scru­ta­tor is not the only im­por­tant in­di­vid­ual who thinks Le­sotho is far bet­ter off with­out King Kamoli in charge. The Amer­i­cans have said it. The Euro­peans have said so. The SADC has said it. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of Ba­sotho have said it. If Ntate Mo­sisili has in­deed found a way out for King Kamoli, then the Premier has de­fined his great­est legacy.

But the ques­tion is, if the mighty King of the LDF can in­deed force the premier and his en­tire cab­i­net to do press ups (as­sum­ing this story is not beer hall fan­tasy), what chances are there that the Premier can in­deed coax him into leav­ing a post he so avari­ciously ca­vorts.

The ru­mour mill in Maseru re­mains in over­drive. Some say a spe­cial em­bassy is be­ing opened in ei­ther Siberia or Kathmandu for King Kamoli.

He will man it on his own to keep him­self busy, just in case he re­turns to wreak havoc again. An­other sug­ges­tion is that he might be sec­onded to nige­ria to help fight Boko Haram. I will hold my breath till Ntate Mo­sisili’s promised state­ment.

Cyn­ics how­ever in­sist that the King is not go­ing any­where. They say Ntate Mo­sisili’s state­ment is a ruse to hood­wink SADC into be­liev­ing that some­thing is be­ing done to im­ple­ment its key rec­om­men­da­tion that the mighty King must go. But Scru­ta­tor has no rea­son to doubt the Premier.

I am tired of liv­ing in fear of the mighty King. Each time I see his mo­tor­cade, I sprint away. What if he sees me, pulls of the high cal­i­bre pis­tol that re­splends his waist­line and pumps ten bul­lets into my small head in the full knowl­edge that he is above the law and will get away with any­thing.

If he keeps his word, Ntate Mo­sisili’s speech this week may thus turn out to be his best ever, for telling King Kamoli to go to hell but in such a nice ro­man­tic lan­guage that the mighty King ac­tu­ally looks for­ward to the trip.

I in­sist, there is now a flicker of hope for Le­sotho.


Whites kneel be­fore Ugan­dan dic­ta­tor Idi Amin in this 1975 file pic­ture.

Whites car­ry­ing Amin on a makeshift throne at State House in Kam­pala (1975 file photo).

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